The Ball So Hard 50: Kevin Love, no. 18

Sick of arguing with your friends about who is the best player in the NBA? Leading into the ’13-14 NBA Season, Ball So Hard will be putting an end to the debate. Here is the decisive list of the 50 best NBA players.

Note: predictions are for the up coming season and rank players on how they will perform in the ’13-14 season.

Kevin Love

Image: Noah Graham/Getty Images

No. 19, Kevin Love

Last year was the season that wasn’t for Kevin Love. The burly forward only managed 18 games for the year as he struggled with hand fractures and knee issues.

He still managed to put up 18.3 points and 14 rebounds a game, but it was clear he was not the same player that averaged a monster 26 and 13.3 per the season before.

Love breaking his hand doing knuckle pushups has to be up there with Fransico Garcia breaking his arm due to an exploding medicine ball for one of the most unusual NBA injuries.

Regardless of its abnormality, Love’s injury was devastating.

After being kept off the court for two months, K-Love returned to action sporting a hand brace that hampered his effectiveness on offence. His shooting percentages dropped across the board; field goals down to 35.2% from 44.8% the season before, three-point percentage down to 21.7% from 37.2% and even free throws falling to 70.4% from 82.4%.

Suddenly, half of Love’s game was missing. After years of developing an outside shot to compliment his ferocious rebounds, he was reduced to nothing more than a slightly more effective Reggie Evans.

Eventually, in an early January game against Denver, Love re-fractured his right hand, this time the injury requiring surgery. Initial reports suggested the exacerbated hand injury would keep him sidelined for 8-10 weeks, but with the Timberwolves destined for the lottery, the team decided to shut Love down for the season and booked him in for additional knee surgery.

Heading into the new season, all reports out of Minnesota suggest that Love has gotten himself into the best shape of his career. He has reportedly dropped to 240 lbs and is in the best cardio endurance shape he has ever been.

Most importantly, according to TWolves PR, Love has fully recovered from both injuries that plagued him last season.

If all of this is true, expect to see Love return to the beastly form that saw him earn two All-Star nods, selection to the 2012 Olympic team and a $60 million, four-year extension – in 2011-12 Love ranked fourth in scoring per game and second in rebounds, and was a legitimate MVP candidate on his way to All-NBA second team selection.

Nobody in the league combines deadeye shooting and relentless rebounding like Love does. Check his 31-31 performance against the Knicks (the first since Moses Malone in 1982) for exhibit A.

The Timberwolves have been busy this offseason, reshuffling their roster in hopes of making their first playoffs push in a decade. The re-signing of Nikola Pekovic is especially important to the effectiveness of Love. The big Serbian prevents bigs from doubling down on Love every play and also provides a legitimate threat down low when Love drifts out to the perimeter on offence.

The addition of Corey Brewer gives the Wolves a defensive stopper that they have been desperately missing, while Kevin Martin and Shabazz Muhammad add some scoring punch.

A healthy Ricky Rubio will also do wonders to Love’s efficiency, with the tricky Spaniard adept at finding his teammates in the best possible position for easy buckets.

The 2012-13 NBA season was one to forget for Kevin Love, but if he is in as great shape as his team doctors suggest, the 2013-14 season should be one to remember for years to come.

2 thoughts on “The Ball So Hard 50: Kevin Love, no. 18

  1. Pingback: The Fiasco 50: Kevin Love, no. 18 | Fiasco Sports

  2. Pingback: Re-ranking the Ball So Hard 50: 10-6 | BALL SO HARD

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